En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - August 03, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Hail damage to Cenizo in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have some Texas sage Silverado. After the latest hail, they look very sad. If about the half of plant is OK and the other half looks dried/dead?, should we prune the dried half? Are they ever coming back?

ANSWER:

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush) is a tough desert bush, but the weather has really handed it a one-two punch in Austin this year. Considering what hail can do to your car or roof, it's not surprising that the Cenizo looks pretty beat-up. However, after you read these Condition Comments from the webpage on this plant in our Native Plant Database, you may also understand what other problems the plant is experiencing:

"Conditions Comments: According to legend, cenizo tend to bloom in conjunction with rainfall. The ashy appearance of the leaves is due to the millions of tiny hairs covering them. Cenizo is easy to grow so long as it has good drainage. It makes a good screen or hedge. There are many nice color selections and cultivars. Susceptible to cotton root rot. Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal. Cultivated cenizos tend to become leggier with fewer blooms than in nature; tip prune to increase density. Cenizos should not be fertilized or over-watered. Drought- and heat-tolerant."

In particular, note this line from those comments: "Humidity and high night temperatures are lethal." And what have we been having in Austin this summer? Right. 

Before you start pruning anything off, give the dead-looking branches the thumbnail test. Scrape just a very fine layer of the skin off one or two of those branches, some higher, others closer to the roots. If there is a thin layer of green beneath that first coat, the plant is still alive and so are those branches. They are just laying low until Summer blows over. We would certainly suggest some tip pruning, and a little deep watering a couple times a week. Remember, this plant also needs good drainage, so if water is standing after you water it, that's too much. Spread some good quality shredded bark mulch over the root area, which will both hold in moisture and help to keep the roots cool. We predict you will see some recovery when the cool weather and (hopefully!) the rains come in the Fall. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

Cenizo
Leucophyllum frutescens

More Pruning Questions

When may I remove seed heads from yuccas?
June 07, 2010 - Soft tip yuccas dominate my home's landscape. When is the best time to remove the heavy seed heads after flowering? In addition to being difficult to work around, the pods seem to attract infestatio...
view the full question and answer

Failure to bloom of Salvia greggii from San Antonio
June 29, 2011 - We bought Salvia greggii at the Wildflower Center Plant Sale three years ago and planted them in a well drained area. We cut them back early in the year as recommended at Go Native U classes. ...
view the full question and answer

Runaway growth on mountain laurel in Coolidge AZ
July 01, 2010 - I have 2 mountain laurels. They are thriving well. In fact one is growing way too fast. I am growing it as a tree, but the branches are in excess of 6 feet, while the trunk is only 18 or so inches. I ...
view the full question and answer

Deadheading Mexican hat to produce more blooms in Austin
July 05, 2010 - I have several Mexican hat (rudbeckia) plants growing wild in my yard. Would deadheading now give them a second flush of bloom in fall?
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native Chinese fringe flower from Austin
June 24, 2013 - When is the best time of year to prune Plum Delight? And how severely can it be cut back?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center